People say that NFS Underground was bad, and it did have (on technical grounds of how the game was coded, and QA’d) and I was apprehensive with this latest iteration in the NFS franchise.
Need For Speed Shift, literally shifts back to the realm of organized racing similar to Need For Speed ProStreet with a difference in graphics, controls and overall performance. EA got a different team working on this project (along with some of the old EA Black Box people) Slightly Mad Studios, who are developing simulation driving games with other development studios.
Graphics wise, Shift has improved the graphics immensely from Need for Speed Undercover. The treatment of the cars has improved with more vibrancy in their color. Add in the return of the cockpit view, giving us a refreshing (and a much needed) view inside the car, seeing each car’s detailed interiors.
The interiors of the car have working gauges, and we could see the driver shifts (stick or paddle) and steer. However, some of the car functionality (of course) won’t work, as not all cars have GPS mind you. Aside from upgrading the car’s exterior with body kits, rims and vinyl stick-on, we can now upgrade the car’s interior with a variety of cockpit upgrades. Level 1 upgrades nets us a street racing steering wheel. Level 2 upgrades it further to have a basic set-up of rollbars (with the rear seat still there), street racing seats, and some updated gauges. Level 3 upgrades the steering wheel to semi-pro steering wheel, racing seats, the removal of the rear seats, upgraded roll bars, and dashboard (but the instruments are still stock). For Works approved cars, the set up involves: professional racing wheel (from stick shift to paddle shift), racing seats, and the dashboard gets new (digital) instrumentation.
For external parts, autosculpt has been removed (as if it’s very useful…), and so are the ton of extra kits available before. The game follows the Most Wanted system of providing set kits for installation.
Damage is still here, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be surprised that vehicle damage is permanently ON (there’s no option to turn it off), BUT, we have the choice to either allow cosmetic damage or complete vehicle damage. Also, parts removed from the vehicle are retained on the track the entire duration of a race (I’ll post the pics on that)
Control wise, EA has changed their old driving style arcade racing (where controls are VERY EASY to master) to simulation style. I was quite surprised with the change in controls as in Undercover, I could still step on the accelerator of a RWD (rear wheel drive) car and steer at the same time. In this case, it plays a lot like Gran Turismo where proper braking, and acceleration is key while turning is a must. Aside from racing laps around a track, Drifting has returned. And unlike previous NFS drifting sessions where we could do a 10,20,30 second drift, it’s harder this time. As I’ve said, proper breaking, proper acceleration will get ourselves the big points in drifting.
Here are some observations I have when driving RWD, FWD and AWD vehicles in the game:
a.) RWD cars tend to oversteer/spin-out on corners, proper braking before cornering, feathering of the accelerator during the turn (if someone’s right up your tail), and accelerating afterwards is needed.
b.) FWD cars tend to understeer, this time, you can plough through a turn while stepping on the accelerator, however there’s a tendency to under steer.
c.) AWD cars have great control over cornering, but their weight is a disadvantage and if we apply too much acceleration, it can still cause nasty spin-outs.
Amazingly, I clock around 30-45 FPS on Fraps with my current set-up. I would assume that the game would rely heavily on the graphics card, as (again) I’ve been using this 9800GT for almost 6 months, which is a derivative to the 8800GT around 2-3 years ago. There’s some processor work involved though, as at times I experienced stuttering once or twice on Nurburgring Nordschleife (which I think it’s the spelling). The cause is trivial, IM applications were running. Turn them off, everything will run normally.
Unlike the Need for Speed titles since Underground 2 (except ProStreet), Shift has removed the world navigation system, as Underground technically wasn’t using it well for launching races/missions. Instead, we’re treated with a Gran Turismo like Tier system of racing where easy events are given to the bottom tier and going up. Car listing has been simplified and that we can no longer buy multiple cars of the same model. Example: I got myself an Evo X and upgraded it to Works and was thinking of buying another Evo X to retain the stock interior (a sleeper car). The game doesn’t permit us anymore to get another car of the same model.
I’ve been mentioning that there’s a Works upgrade. This is a bit new concept to the series (but on other games, no) that allows us to completely upgrade a car and convert it into a circuit racing vehicle. The upside is that there’s a tremendous increase in your car’s overall racing capability. It’s no longer a regular car, but a race car. The downside to this modification is that you can no longer revert to the regular car that it once was (except selling it).
Races involve the regular lap race, drifting, a point race (similar to the sprint, except there’s only one track that’s used, and it’s the Nordschleife), time attack laps and knockout races. Everything’s played on enclosed circuits and we have a mixture of real world courses (like the Nordschleife, Laguna Seca, Brands Hatch, and Silverstone to name a few).
Requirements: Windows Operating System
Windows XP (Service Pack 3) or Windows Vista (Service Pack 1) / Windows 7
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6 GHz or faster
Memory: 1.0 GB (Windows XP) / 1.5 GB (Windows Vista/Windows 7)
Hard Drive Space: 6 GB of free space
Sound Hardware: DirectX 9.0c compatible
Network: 512 Kbps or faster
Input Device(s): Xbox 360 controller,keyboard, mouse, wheel